Stadio more than doubled the number of students enrolled at its campuses by December 2019, excluding its Milpark business school, from its student numbers at the end of 2017.  

The private higher education group, which also owns film and art school Afda, said student numbers rose 7% to 31,869 at the end of December. In its prelisting statement in 2017, Stadio told the market it hoped to have 16,577 students by 2019.

Small Talk Daily Research small cap analyst Anthony Clark said the decrease in Milpark’s student numbers is a “short-term blip” because of the current state of the economy and because individuals do not have money to pace themselves if companies are not providing training.

Stadio says it has exceeded the strategic objectives and financial benchmarks set out in its pre-listing statement. Business Day TV spoke to Stadio CEO Chris van der Merwe for more detail on the performance.

“The student numbers increased because of the group’s offering. Other subsidiaries, such as the Southern Business School (SBS),  could have helped with this, but we will know when Stadio releases their presentation,” said Clark.

“Added to this, the group’s revenue rose because of the way they have tailored their education. Their institutions are asset-light and learning-intensive. The group is an amalgamation of acquisitions and generally their underlying costs are cheaper due to the nature of the market they are in,” he said.

The group said a large part of Milpark’s business was training on behalf of companies. This business had been hit by “various economic factors which remain outside Milpark’s control”, it said.

Stadio acquired the remaining 26% shareholding in SBS and the group now owns 100% of all its educational brands besides Milpark, in which it has an interest of 87.2%. 

Stadio CEO Chris van der Merwe said the exceeded targeted profits were accomplished in the midst of a tight economy and a country facing a recession.

Group revenue rose 29% to R815m while profit for the period climbed 8% to R83.68m.

Stadio said it was well positioned to reach its strategic objective of 100,000 students and was focused on consolidating its various institutions under one “Stadio multiversity”.

Van der Merwe said the group is working side by side with the Council on Higher Education and the department of higher education & training to create “one Stadio” with several faculties by 2020.

“We see Stadio as one typical example of how the private and the state sector can work together. Our next aim is to head for 40,000 students and we firmly believe that the market is big enough for Stadio to be of service to 100,000 students over time,” said the CEO.

Van der Merwe is stepping down as CEO and will be replaced by the founder and current CEO of SBS, Chris Vorster, as from April 1.

In evening trade on Thursday, Stadio’s share price was down 4.24% to R1.58. It has more than halved over the past 12 months.


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